Professor Sean Coyle

Birmingham Law School
Professor of Jurisprudence

Contact details

+44 (0) 121 414 6321
+44 (0) 121 414 3585
Birmingham Law School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Coyle writes and teaches on aspects of legal and political philosophy. In 2004 his work won one of the SLS Prizes for Outstanding Legal Scholarship, and his most recent book, From Positivism to Idealism, was shortlisted for the 2008 Inner Temple Book Prize. He has lectured and spoken at universities throughout the UK and elsewhere, most recently including Emory University, LSE, and the Universities of Antwerp, Manchester and Minnesota.


  • LLB (Hons), University of Dundee
  • PhD, University of Glasgow


Sean Coyle was appointed to the chair of English Laws in 2011. He was previously Professor of Jurisprudence, University of Exeter (2009-11), Reader in Jurisprudence, University College London (2005-09), Lecturer in Laws, University College London (2003-05), and Lecturer in Law, University of Durham (1998-2003).


  • Jurisprudence (LLB)
  • Political and Legal Theory (LLB)
  • Advanced Political and Legal Theory (LLM)

Postgraduate supervision

All areas of jurisprudence and political philosophy.


His work lies in the field of Jurisprudence and Political Philosophy. He is the author of numerous books and articles, his most recent books being Dimensions of Politics and English Jurisprudence (Cambridge University Press, 2013) and Modern Jurisprudence, a philosophical guide (Hart, 2014).

Other activities

Professor Coylewas the editor of Jurisprudence - an international journal of legal and political thought (2010-2016), and is a member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, the Law and Practical Reason series (Hart monographs) and the Law, Rights and Ecology series (Glasshouse Press monographs). Since 2007 he has been a member of the Centre for Law and Cosmopolitan Values, University of Antwerp.



  • Modern Jurisprudence, a philosophical guide (Oxford, Hart, 2014)
  • Dimensions of Politics and English Jurisprudence (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2013)
  • From Positivism to Idealism - A Study of the Moral Dimensions of Legality. Applied Legal Theory Series, general ed. Tom Campbell (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2007).
  • Jurisprudence or Legal Science? (Oxford, Hart Publications, 2005), ed. with G Pavlakos, Antwerp/Glasgow.
  • The Philosophical Foundations of Environmental Law. (Oxford, Hart Publications, 2004), with K Morrow, Swansea.
  • Studies in Legal Systems: Mixed and Mixing. (London, Kluwer International, 1996), ed. with E Attwooll & E Orucu, Glasgow.

Articles & Book Chapters:

  • Natural Law and Goodness in Thomistic Ethics. Canadian J of Law and Jurisprudence (2017) forthcoming. 
  • Natural Law in Aquinas and Grotius — An Ethics for Our Times? New Blackfriars (2016), 591-609.
  • Labour Rights as Natural Rights. In M Fineman ed. Labor and Vulnerability (Ashgate 2016).
  • Radicalism and Conservatism in Environmental Law. In Grear ed. Thought, Law, Rights and Action in the Age of Environmental Crisis (Elgar 2015)
  • Property Rights, Environmental Justice and Worldly Order - Lessons from Natural Law. In L. Kotze ed. Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment (Edward Elgar, 2014).
  • Legality and the Liberal Order. 76 Modern Law Review (2013), 401-418.
  • The Ideality of Law (II). In T. Brooks ed. Studies in Moral Philosophy: Law and Legal Theory (Brill, 2013).
  • Vulnerability and the Liberal Order. In M. Fineman & A. Grear eds. Vulnerability and the Human Condition (University of Chicago Press, 2013). c. 9,000 words.
  • Fallen Justice. 93 New Blackfriars (2012), 687-709.
  • Western Jurisprudence and Study of Law. In Bin Liang & Hong Lu eds. Jurisprudence: Western Research in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Vol 11. (Beijing, China Renmin University Press, 2011) [in Mandarin].
  • Legalism and Modernity. 35 Australian Journal of Legal Philosophy (2010), 55-84.
  • The Intellectual Commitments of Modern Juridical Thought. XXIII Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence (2010), 1-22.
  • The Ideality of Law. 6 Journal of Moral Philosophy (2009), 521-34.
  • The Limits of Legal Ideologies. 60 Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly (2009), 471-86.
  • The Human Face of the Rule of Law. 62 Current Legal Problems (2009) 71-101.
  • The Reality of the Enlightenment. 17 British Journal of the History of Philosophy (2009), 849-58.
  • Justice Without Mercy. 60 Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly (2009), 343-59.
  • A Propos of a Treatise of Legal Philosophy and General Jurisprudence. 22 Ratio Juris (2009), 155-70.
  • Positivism as a Statist Philosophy of Law. 59 Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly (2008), 49-72.
  • Positivism, Idealism and the Rule of Law. 26 Oxford Journal of Legal Studies (2006), 257-88.
  • Practices and the Rule of Recognition. 25 Law and Philosophy (2006), 417-52.
  • ‘Protestant’ Political Theory and the Significance of Rights. 56 Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly (2005), 551-84.
  • Two Concepts of Legal Analysis. In Coyle & Pavlakos eds. Jurisprudence or Legal Science? (2005), 21-47.
  • Jurisprudence or Legal Science? In Coyle & Pavlakos eds. Jurisprudence or Legal Science? (2005), i-xvi.
  • Facing Jorgensen’s Dilemma. 55 Northern Ireland Legal Quarterly (2004), 341-57.
  • Common Law. IVR Encyclopaedia of Jurisprudence, Legal Theory and Philosophy of Law (2004).
  • Thomas Hobbes and the Intellectual Origins of Legal Positivism. XVI Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence (2003), 243-70.
  • The Possibility of Deontic Logic. 15 Ratio Juris (2002), 289-318.
  • Hart, Raz and the Concept of a Legal System. 21 Law and Philosophy (2002), 275-304.
  • Are There Necessary Truths About Rights? XV Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence (2002), 21-49.
  • The Meaning of the Logical Constants in Deontic Logic. 12 Ratio Juris (1999), 39-58.
  • Our Knowledge of the Legal Order. 5 Legal Theory (1999), 389-413.
  • Introduction. In Orucu, Attwooll & Coyle eds. Studies in Legal Systems: Mixed and Mixing (1996), ix-xvii.


  • Review of R Barnes, Property Rights and Natural Resources. (Oxford, Hart Publishing, 2009). Environmental Law Review (2010).
  • Review of EA Curran, Reclaiming the Rights of the Hobbesian Subject. (Basingstoke, Palgrave, 2007), 17 British Journal of the History of Philosophy (2009), 210-13.
  • Review of RCA Higgins. The Moral Limits of Law. (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2004). 64 Cambridge Law Journal (2005), 749-52.
  • Review of WN Hohfeld, Fundamental Juridical Conceptions as Applied in Judicial Reasoning, ed. D Campbell & P Thomas with an introduction by NE Simmonds. (Aldershot, Ashgate, 2001), 7 Edinburgh Law Review (2003), 268-71.


Legal and political philosophy including jurisprudence